NFL

Is It Fair to Call Reggie Bush an NFL Bust?

Hype can be a very dangerous thing. Sure, hype packs stadiums and sells jerseys, but sometimes it makes for unrealistic expectations and broken hearts. There have been a lot of players over the years that came off of incredible college careers and were billed as the next big thing come draft season. That’s nothing new. Take Matt Stafford, Jameis Winston, or Andrew Luck for example. But no college player in history had quite as much hype surrounding them as Reggie Bush. 

Reggie Bush career overview

Bush was a monster when he played at USC. In his final year alone he racked up more than 1,700 rushing yards, 16 touchdowns, and 37 receptions. His college career culminated in 2005 with a Rose Bowl appearance, a Doak Walker award, and the Heisman trophy. 

His college performance built up the hype surrounding him going into the draft. But after his NFL debut, his career took a sharp turn. Bush spent the first five seasons in New Orleans where he put up decent, if unspectacular, numbers. He averaged 3.7 yards per carry and never broke 600 rushing yards in a season.

In all five years with the Saints, Bush only managed to squeeze out 17 rushing touchdowns. Receiving yardage was about equal, with Bush averaging nearly 8 yards a carry, and between 400 and 700 yards a season.  

After his time in New Orleans, Bush found himself traveling between teams for the remainder of his career, including Detroit, Miami, and Buffalo. While Bush had slightly better numbers in Detroit, even breaking the 1,000 yard rushing mark on two successive seasons, he never truly hit the same stride that he did in college

Great expectations

Was Bush a bad player? Some sports critics have gone so far as saying that Bush’s entire career was a bust. If you were to look at his career without knowing who the stats belonged to, Bush’s numbers would look rock solid on paper. He’d be a decent acquisition for any team. The problem with his career is a problem of expectation versus reality

Coming out of USC, the hype for Bush was unreal. He hadn’t played a day in the NFL yet and already people were calling him the greatest running back of all time. Pundits and fans alike expected Bush to break existing rushing records and be the central focus of the Saints’ ground game. His actual performance, however, was far from that. 

He was a good clutch running back who contributed solid numbers to New Orleans’ offense, but his true value was in his utility. Arguably, during his early seasons in the league, Bush was as much a receiver as he was a running back, and his contributions can’t be minimized. 

Did ReggieBush get a bad rap?

You can’t just blame the disappointment over Bush’s performance on sky-high expectations though. There were other factors involved. 

For starters, Bush was plagued by injuries throughout his NFL career which is interesting given that he was relatively injury-free in college. His injuries included a PCL tear, multiple problems with the meniscus in his knee, a fibula fracture, and multiple pulled calves. Injury factored highly into his career performance causing him to miss over 20 games. 

Add into that the fact that he was embroiled in controversy throughout his NFL tenure. Almost immediately after leaving USC his college career came under fire when he was accused of taking over 200,000 dollars from a marketing firm while still attending the school. During his time in the NFL, Bush never directly addressed the allegations, but in 2010 he was forced to return his Heisman trophy.

Between his injuries, the expectations, and the stain against his college career, Reggie Bush may seem like a bust, but the solid stats that he put up despite all that say otherwise.